( 1 )Yajna (Sacrifice ):Generally the term yajna refers to fire sacrifice .In the Bhagvad Gita ,yajna includes all the prescribed actions laid down in the scriptures ,when they are done as an offering to the Supreme .The elements of nature are integral parts of the system of God's creation .All parts of the system naturally draw from and give back to the whole .The sun lends stability to the earth and provides heat and light necessary for life to exist .Earth creates food from its soil for our nourishment and also holds essential minerals in its womb for a civilized lifestyle .The air moves the life force in our body and enables transmission of sound energy .We humans are too an integral part of the entire system of God's creation .The air that we breathe ,the earth that we walk upon ,the water that we drink ,and the light that illuminates our day ,are all gifts of creation to us .While we partake of these gifts to sustain our lives ,we also have our duties towards the integral system .The Bhagvat Gita states that we are obligated to participate with the creative force of nature by performing our prescribed duties in the service of God .That is the yajna God expects from us .
Consider the example of a hand .It is an integral part of the body .It receives its nourishment -blood ,oxygen ,nutrients ,etc -from the body ,and in turn ,it performs necessary functions for the body .If the hand looks on this service as burdensome ,and decides to get severed from the body ,it cannot sustain itself for even a few minutes .It is in the performance of its yajna toward the body that the self -interest of the hand is also fulfilled .Similarly we individual souls are tiny parts of the Supreme and we all have our role to play in the grand scheme of things .When we perform our yajna toward him ,our self interest is naturally satiated .
Sacrifice ,or yajna ,should be performed in divine consciousness as an offering to the Supreme Lord .However ,people vary in their understanding ,and hence perform sacrifice in different manners with similar consciousness .Persons with lesser understanding ,and wanting material rewards ,make offerings to the celestial Gods.
(2)Devata (Celestial gods ):These are beings that live in the higher planes of existence within this material world ,called Swarg (the celestial abodes ).These celestial beings (devatas )are not God .They are souls like us .They occupy specific positions in the system of God's administration and oversee specific aspects of the material world .
Consider the Federal government of a country .There is a Secretary of State , Secretary of Commerce ,an Agriculture Secretary ,and so on .These are positions ,and select people occupy these positions for a limited tenure .The positions remain but the persons holding those positions change .Similarly ,in the governance of the affairs of the world ,there are positions such as Agni Dev (the god of fire ),Vayu Dev (the god of wind ),Varun Dev (the god of the ocean ),Indra Dev (the king of the celestial gods ),etc .Souls selected by virtue of their deeds in past lives occupy these seats for a certain amount of time .Then they fall from their position and others occupy these seat.Thus ,souls become celestial gods only temporarily and ,as a result ,we cannot compare them to the Supreme Lord .
Many people worship the celestial gods for material rewards .However ,we must remeber that these devatas cannot grant either liberation from material bondage or God -realization .Even if they do bestow material benefits ,it is only by the powers that they have received from God .Hence ,the Bhagavad Gita repeatedly discourages people from worshipping the celestial gods and states that those who are situated in knowledge worship the Supreme Lord .
(3 )Divine Abode of God :This material realm including ,all the celestial abodes ,the earth planet ,and the hellish planes of existence ,is only one fourth of God's entire creation .It is for those souls who have not yet attained spiritual perfection .Here we experience suffering in various forms ,such as birth ,disease ,old -age ,and death .Beyond this entire material realm is the spiritual dimension consisting of three -fourths of God's creation .It contains innumerable divine abodes of God that are referred to in Vedic literature as Saket Lok (the abode of Lord Ram ),Golok (the abode of Lord Krishna ),Vaikunthh Lok (the abode of Lord Narayan ),Shiv Lok (the abode of Lord Shiv ),Devi Lok (the abode of Mother Durga ),etc .The Bhagavad Gita repeatedly mentions that one who attains God -realization goes to the divine abodes of God and does not return to cycle of life and death in the material world again .
(४ )Sharanagati (Surrender ):God is divine and cannot be comprehended by our material intellect .Similarly ,he can not be perceived by our material senses -the eyes can not see him ,the years cannot hear him ,etc .However ,if he decides to bestow his grace upon some living being ,he grants his divine energy upon that fortunate soul .On receiving his divine grace ,one can see him ,and attain him .This grace of God is not a whimsical act from his side .He bestows his divine grace upon those who surrender to him ,and attain him .Thus ,the Bhagvad Gita emphasizes that the soul must learn the secret of surrendering to the supreme Lord .
Reference material :"Excerpted from the 'Bhagvad Gita 'by Swami Mukundananda ,courtsey JKYog ,USA."